Q: Before the Feb. 4 State of the Union address, when was the last time someone acted outside of the normal decorum for a presidential address?
A: One of the most memorable moments of recent presidential addresses to Congress came when a Republican congressman infamously yelled out “You lie” at President Barack Obama in September 2009.
Obama arrived in the House chamber for a nationally televised joint session to make his pitch for what turned into the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
Obama used parts of the address to try to debunk rumors percolating through conspiracy corners of the internet, including one about illegal immigrants receiving government-funded insurance through the proposed law.
“You lie!” Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) shouted from the Republican side of the chamber.
It was a stunning breach of etiquette, and a week later the House passed a resolution, largely on party lines, admonishing him for the remark.
What made the event more remarkable was Wilson’s own standing in Congress — reliably Republican, not very outspoken, rarely on cable news.
In a sign of where politics and the internet were headed, Wilson raised more than $2.5 million in the ensuing three weeks for a reelection effort that never became competitive. He has won reelection five times since and has maintained his otherwise low profile focusing on issues that reflect his conservative-leaning constituency.
No congressional member has so disrupted a presidential address since then.
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